Last Wills and Testaments

What Happens If a Person Dies Without a Will?

Generally, your descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) will inherit from you.  If you have no descendants and no ascendants (parents, grandparents, etc.), then your sisters and brothers will inherit your separate property and your spouse will inherit your community property, if you own something together.  Separate property basically includes anything you owned before you got married, anything you inherited from someone, and a few other things. Community property basically is anything you bought or received after you got married, with a few exceptions.


If you agree with the distribution of your assets under Louisiana law, then you might decide that you do not need to have a will.  But if you want to do something different, then you should consider having your will prepared by a qualified legal professional.  And if you know what you want done, but you need some help finalizing your wishes in writing, then a notary public can assist you.  If you need legal advice, then we encourage you to see a qualified attorney authorized to practice law in Louisiana.

Types of Wills

Louisiana recognizes only two types of wills:  an olographic will and a notarial will.


The olographic will must be entirely written, dated and signed in the handwriting of the testator (the person making the will). The olographic will should not be notarized, or it very likely will be considered invalid.


The notarial will is a formal document prepared by a legal professional in accordance with your wishes and Louisiana law. It states how you want your assets distributed after you die. Because it is subject to very strict legal requirements, it is not a good idea to type up a will on your own.  Contact your Notary In The East, and let us help you get it done correctly.

Living Wills

First of all, the name is a little misleading. People often confuse a living will with a last will and testament. As stated above, the last will and testament is the document that states who gets what after you die. A living will is the document that states your wishes regarding life-sustaining or end-of-life procedures and support should you be diagnosed as having a terminal and irreversible condition. 


A living will lets everyone know what you want done regarding your medical care and treatment if you are unable to communicate your wishes on your own.  It helps to put family members at peace about making what may be very difficult decisions regarding your medical care because they will know in advance how you want to be treated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my spouse and I have one will to cover the both of us?

No.  In Louisiana you each must have your own wills.  Each will probably will cover things that you own together, but each of you gets to decide who inherits your ownership in those assets.


Is it true that my spouse may not inherit from me if I die without a will?

Yes, that's true. In Louisiana, if you die without a valid will, your surviving spouse does have some protection, but he or she will not automatically inherit from you. For example, if you have descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.), they will inherit from you. Your surviving spouse might inherit use of your assets, but not ownership.


If the deceased person had a will, is a succession still necessary?

Yes.  When a person dies, a succession is required to give his or her heirs or legatees legal possession of the assets that were left behind. A succession is called intestate if the decedent died without a will; the people who inherit are called heirs. A succession is called testate if the decedent died with a will; the people who inherit are called legatees.


Can a will be revoked?

Yes.  You can change or revoke your will at any time.  Most often, a will is revoked by destroying the original and any duplicate copies, or by signing a new will.